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Moosejaw CEO says curated Walmart site helps the outdoor industry reach a wider audience

Published September 7, 2018
Eoin Comerford says he was surprised by the industry's vehement response to the online store.

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. (BRAIN) — Eoin Comerford, the CEO of Moosejaw, says a controversial new curated website featuring premium outdoor gear, part of Walmart's e-commerce site, has the potential to expand the outdoor industry's reach.

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Moosejaw, a Michigan-based outdoor retailer, was purchased by Walmart in 2017. When Walmart launched the premium outdoor site last month, several brands that were included objected. Black Diamond, Deuter and Leki were among the brands that pulled out of the store. Black Diamond sent a cease-and-desist letter to Walmart demanding the retailer stop selling its products and using its trademarks on the site, while the other brands opted out more quietly.  

Walmart released a statement saying it saw the store as good news for the outdoor industry.

"The decision to be part of this new experience will continue to be up to each brand, and our hope is that brands, and even other retailers, share our commitment to driving a truly inclusive outdoor industry. As we grow the Premium Outdoor Store, we will continue to look for leading brands and retailers that want to reach a new, wider audience," Walmart said.

Comerford published an article on LinkedIn on Friday, saying the outdoor industry talks a lot about inclusivity but remains "predominantly male and remarkably white."

He said Moosejaw has always welcomed beginners who are intimidated at other outdoor shops and has always been straightforward with its vendors.

"We developed the Premium Outdoor Store on Walmart with all of these thoughts in mind. Walmart.com's huge traffic offered the ability to expose outdoor brands, activities and products to a massive audience of new and long-term outdoor enthusiasts, including the very groups that are underrepresented in our industry today. We didn't want to be just another marketplace focusing on sterile transactions and price shopping. Instead, we built a destination where we could partner with brands to tell their story through their own images, technologies and product families. We built a destination where the brands could list their product to the highest of their standards," he wrote. 

"I wasn't naive enough to think that all outdoor retailers would welcome the Premium Outdoor Store with open arms, but I am surprised by the vehemence of the attacks by some of our industry's leading retailers and the threats to drop brands that participated," he continued. 

He said the store could usher in significant changes to the industry.

"At the end of the day, the question becomes, 'what industry do we want to be?' A small, exclusionary, slow-growing industry dominated by one or two large retailers that dictate everything from distribution and promotional calendars, or a large, inclusive, fast-growing industry embraced by a growing customer base and populated by many innovative and inspiring outdoor brands."

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